Nail the interview: How to get sensitive or hard-to-reach sources to talk

  • Event: 2019 IRE Conference
  • Speakers: JoNel Aleccia of Kaiser Health News; Brett Murphy of USA TODAY Network; Kiran Chawla of independent journalist
  • Date/Time: Friday, Jun. 14 at 9:00am
  • Location: Texas D
  • Audio file: No audio file available.

The best interviews are often the hardest to score – and the most difficult to conduct, even if the source agrees. How do you successfully cold-call the family of a dead person? What’s the best way to ask traumatized or marginalized people to share their experiences with you? When does door-knocking actually work? How do you convince that tough source to talk when you have one day a week to focus on investigations?

This session with experienced reporters from print, digital and broadcast outlets will focus on finding, securing and conducting interviews with sensitive or hard-to-reach sources.

Speaker Bios

  • JoNel Aleccia is a reporter on Kaiser Health News's enterprise and investigative team, focusing on aging and dying. She previously covered public health and health policy issues at, and The Seattle Times and before that worked as a reporter, editor and columnist at daily newspapers in the Northwest. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Oregon. @JoNel_Aleccia  



  • Kiran Chawla is WAFB’s Lead Investigative Reporter. She’s won numerous awards for her investigations including Edward R. Murrows, Emmys, Associated Press and Louisiana Association of Broadcasters (LAB) and named reporter of the year by AP and LAB. Kiran has worked in news for 17 years in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Jackson, MS.

  • Brett Murphy (@brettmmurphy) is a reporter on USA Today’s investigations desk. He’s also an adjunct journalism professor at George Washington University. Murphy co-founded Local Matters, a weekly newsletter curating the best local investigative reporting around the country. Murphy has won numerous journalism awards and was a 2018 Pulitzer finalist for his series on worker exploitation in the port trucking industry. He is based in Washington, D.C.

Related Tipsheets

No tipsheets have yet been uploaded for this event.